by John Hawkins | December 6, 2002 11:59 pm
Jonah Goldberg Explains The Problem With Foreign Policy On The Left: I was getting ready to close up shop for the week-end and settle down to do a bit of reading and html work on the page for a couple of days when I ran across another exceptional column by Jonah Goldberg. Jonah explains and complains about the left’s foreign policy and what he has to say is worth being noted…
“In my current syndicated column, I complain about the tendency among liberals to argue that no liberal end should be pursued if it might also result in achieving a conservative end – or, heaven forbid, require employing conservative means. Conservatives argue that foreign policy should be conducted out of self-interest but throughout the 1990s antiwar liberals could only find enthusiasm for conflicts which were explicitly not in our national interest. Somalia and Haiti were glorious triumphs of American foreign policy. The Gulf War was tainted because it actually aligned with American interests.
I wrote that I couldn’t understand why this was the case, why it is that liberals – once champions of a simultaneously realistic and moral foreign policy – today shudder at the notion of using force if it might actually be in the national interest.
Now that I’ve slept on it, I have answer. I think the Left is addled by a logic-bending obsession with hypocrisy. While certainly not unknown on the right, I think liberals today put an emphasis on purity of motives and consistency of action, particularly in foreign policy, that makes them damn-near blind to reason. (The New Republic is a rare exception, and has been trying, largely in vain, to construct a coherent and serious liberal foreign policy that the Democratic party and the Left generally ignore – at their peril).
This attitude has deep roots in leftist thinking. It was Hannah Arendt who observed that the Left’s great accomplishment in the 1930s was switching disputes over facts into disputes over motive. So the question wasn’t whether or not so-and-so was a Communist but whether the person who exposed him was a good guy or not.
…Working to make the world better is commendable. Preferring to keep things bad because you don’t think people should act on different motives than your own is the stuff of narcissists, children, and fools.”
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